We drove over to the neighborhood, only this time we parked on the opposite side of a main street, more out in the open. While we were getting the bikes ready we were talking to this thirtysomething black lady who was walking up with her groceries. She was like, "Wait, you're bike riding in *this* neighborhood?!" We rode our bikes to a place where you could get down to the canal pretty easily, almost down a boat launch. We ended up seeing a young water moccasin and a dead dog (and a live one, for that matter) along the way to the tunnel. It was pretty eventful.
Anyway, the bike ride made things *so* much faster. We couldn't believe how quickly we reached various points we had seen last time. We decided to skip the side tunnels for the time being and concentrate on just reaching the end of the main tunnel. As it turned out, this tunnel continued really, really far past where we made it to last time, and it stayed really large for all of it until the last mile or so. You can see most of that in the galleries. I'll only cover what I didn't show on the gallery page here.
The only problem was that we crashed on the slippery stuff. I did once pretty quickly after we got in there. Ben did just a few feet further along. On the way back his brakes weren't working right (they were binding on the tires, so he disabled them), and that made things much more hazardous. He ended up crashing a couple more times later on. Part of the reason was because I let him lead since he didn't have brakes and he had the only working light by that point. Also, I was looking farther ahead (since I was going by his light) and consequently had more time to react. Besides that, he was basically test-piloting the terrain before I got there, so I could see what he was avoiding. Hopefully he didn't end up too busted up from all his crashes. I didn't realize it until I went to bed that night, but I was skinned up pretty badly on my hip where I landed. My arm and hand also turned out to be a little scraped, but it was all superficial.
Thankfully, we were going downhill almost the whole way back, so it was pretty fast. It was a very enjoyable return trip since we didn't have to exert much effort and the temperature was relatively cool. Unlike last time, we brought boots in our backpacks but never found a need to use them. No blisters, just a few scrapes. I think it was a good trade-off. Even going upstream we were moving really fast on the bikes, especially in areas that we passed last time or that were really clean and dry.
Since it was a little after midnight when we came out, we didn't go back through the canal and risk any other wild animal encounters. Instead we went up via the original exit we used last time through the fence. Just as we were leaving, there was a big black guy coming in one direction down the street and a married couple coming from the other direction pushing a stroller. They were like, "Holy Shit!" They couldn't figure out why all these white boys were popping out of the woods on bikes. They were completely startled. It was absolutely hilarious although I can't put it into words exactly why. It's funny because I just watched 8 Mile (the movie with homophobe and all-around nut job Eminem) and it reminded me of his "colorful" neighborhood. (Oh, and skip the movie; it was lame!)
Afterwards we went to some 24 hour diner on the outskirts of downtown that Ben knew about. Both of us were starving, having been down there for a little over 5 hours and having biked perhaps five miles or more each way. I bought a bike odometer this afternoon, so we'll see how well that works a little later.
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